Friendship with Conditions

Heart is a bit heavy today

It’s… because of the things around,

Perhaps

Or, is it because of me only?

My house?

Discolored walls of my house,

Cracks and leaks in the discolored walls of the house

… I can handle all that with money

But it is the attitude of people,

People, close and distant

Matured and grown up

It is high time it was decided

Any delay can cause unnecessary trouble

The trouble could grow

And turn into a demon beyond control

The point is not how many and how long the troubles have been

The point is ‘why’ have I been tolerating them?

More over why should I live with them any more

You think whatever you say, has a meaning

And my words make no sense?

Then we don’t have right to be together

If you feel you are in a jail

I too am choking to death

Like you are proud of the way you think

I too might have huge respect for my own thoughts

You can insult me in any way you want

Go ahead and insult my looks,

My shabbiness, sloppiness

I am fine with that

It could be the matter of taste

But I will not tolerate insult of my ideas

I love my way of thinking

Just like you

My thoughts are also unique in the world

Just like yours

They are precious

They are pretty

They are full of intelligence

They don’t lack anything

Just like yours

No one has a right to look down upon them

To insult them

They are products of my mind

They are pious for me

This will be a hard decision

But showing respect for my thoughts,

Will be a mandatory condition for friendship

If you say,

What is I said was, ‘wrong’

Then let us not waste time any more

I will turn left from next cross road

You take the right

And then be right, forever

Kabir’s Common Sense

‘With mud, bricks and stones they raised a praying hall,

A priest then calls from top, as if He doesn’t hear at all.’

‘Reading books never made any one knowledgeable,

Unless you have imbibed the four letters of love.’

‘If your heart is pure, you are holy – your life is holy,

Even the water soaking animal hide becomes holy.’

‘Don’t throw away small when you find one bigger,

While mending your shirt, a sword loses to the needle.’

‘Don’t condemn anything, even the dust below your feet,

If that enters your eyes you will know how painful it is.’

‘A saint is like a sieve, with knowledge of good and useless,

He should be able to keep the good and blow away the useless.’

Owning Nothingness

Gautam announced

Today is the best day of his life!

Everyone was surprised, happily

But strangely no one noticed it

They tried to find it on him

In him,

The happiness

In fact he is never happy

He is also never sad

I guess that is not really normal

He is so ‘in between’,

Sadness and happiness

I don’t know what state is that

But it seems it works for him

To be in that ‘in between’ state

But how does it matter to Gautam                       

Or to anyone else for that matter

Is it not a good thing to be happy?

And is it bad to be sad?

But if you are sad and you can find ‘why’

Then you have the reason

And you can work on it

To remove the problems making you sad

That is a good approach

Very practical

Very normal

Everyone should try to improve their lives

And other’s

But… what if nothing is wrong?

That, I guess is a very impractical idea

No one has that kind of life

No one can get it

Anyone who is alive has problems

So if Gautam is in that ‘in between’ state

How does he benefit?

Everyone knows he had his share of troubles

Perhaps much bigger than many of us

His family

Parents, wife

His kingdom

The wars

His search for knowledge

Search for the truth

He is not trying to reclaim his glorious past

He is comfortable with what he has lost

And with what he has today

And also with the thought

That tomorrow there may be nothing

Out of all the nothingness that he owns today

(24 June, 2013)

Ringing Ears

It is dark. So very dark. Also I can’t hear a thing. Where is everyone gone? They all were here few minutes back. I have lost gauge of time. I don’t how much time has passed. May be they all are meeting in the passage outside. May be they have gone to the canteen. It must be so boring to sit with me. There was no sound of any kind. The silence was perfectly deafening. Suddenly I heard a sound. Note of a straight single frequency. I am used to it. I have been hearing them all my life, since my childhood. Whenever there was total silence, my inner ears would start resonating in various frequencies and that sound would go on getting louder or weaker. It sustained itself as long as there is no external interference. So, there is this single frequency note ringing in my ear.

What is happening? Finally I decided to check it out myself. Very gingerly I put my feet on the ground, put my palms on my knees and got ready to stand up. I extended my arms in front to feel anything, a wall, a curtain, a person… my finger tips did not touch anything. I swayed my arms sideways – nothing. Then swayed them all around me with same result. I hope they all are fine. I had to stand up now. I did that very carefully. I was standing. I bent forward and extended my arms. It was surprising. I thought I should be touching something. I took two steps forward but felt unconfident. So I returned two steps back and found my bed. Now in desperation I decided to risk it all and go forward till I found someone.

I moved with resolve and kept going. I had decided that even if I don’t find my bed again, it is fine. Even if I cannot find anyone, may be someone else will find me… And then, I felt a wall made of soft cotton, or more like a cloud. Cloud! What the hell! How come there is a cloud in here or even cotton? Strangely I went through it. But why is it so dark? I tried to find a light, any light close by or in the distance. Nothing. Where am I? Am I on a high mountain at night? I was frightened now, very frightened. As I had felt earlier that I walked through a wall of clouds; I felt something passed through me too. After this I went through another smaller cloud and freaked out. I felt the floor had vanished from under my feet, literally. In a hurry I turned back, retraced my steps and I thought I reached where I was supposed to be.

I did not find my bed this time. But I did hear that frequency again. Thankfully, I was back in my own space. I felt someone walk towards me. Then many more steps came closer. None of them were looking at me but looking in the same direction above me. I remember there was monitor that side. They were all watching a straight line in the middle of the screen. That line perhaps was the origin of that single frequency ringing in my ears.

Then there was a click that ended the sound of that frequency. My ears were not ringing any more.

Excape to Death

He didn’t hear the phone ring. Perhaps he was dreaming. So, he thought. On the other end a rough and strong hand held the line for full three minutes until the ring turned to beep. It was timed out, indicating no response. He stirred a bit and picked up the phone, few moments too late. He also heard the beep. He wondered how come ringing turned into a beep. He decided to be ready next time. He turned towards the phone, dragged his right leg near his chest and felt comfortable. He fell asleep again. Soon he developed a frown. His eyes trying to shut tighter as if someone wanted to force them open.

“No, I don’t want to see it. Don’t show me her picture. I have no idea what you are talking about.”

The room was dark. The woman was lying on the floor. She was shackled. The chains were secured tied to the walls behind her. She had long given up her struggle to fight. She just lay lifeless with open eyes. She looked at everyone and everything without any emotion. No hatred, no fear, nothing. She knew she was alive. Thats all she knew. She had no idea when will she see the sun or the moon or when will she find herself under the sky, in the open and breath normal air. She does not know how long has she been there. She vaguely knows the reason for which she was brought there. She knew it initially of course, but now after weeks or months of torture she has lost the clarity. Men around her speak loudly with questions in their voice. But she doesn’t know what are they asking for. She can’t get the words. It is impossible for her to help them if she doesn’t know what is being said and it was equally impossible for the men to let her go without knowing what she was hiding.

They prepared to leave. A lump of rice was thrown in front of her on the floor and then they left. She heard the familiar clanking sounds of strong metal doors shutting. She used to scream aloud when she was just brought here. She felt that perhaps someone outside on the road will be able to hear her; but she was wrong. Perhaps the doors were made with a purpose or this place was far away into the wilderness. She remembered being blind folded. She looked at the yellowish rice lump and closed her eyes. May be she should try to die by not eating. But then she will have to hide the food somewhere. There was no place where it could be hidden. It was a large hall and everything was visible. Being alone too was playing on her nerves. She had started shivering, she didn’t know why. Was it weakness, frayed nerves or was it cold. She would feel cold on the floor at nights.

From where was the fresh air coming in? There was a faint glow of light on her extreme right. May be there is a window there. If that opening was not there it would been better. I would have died long back, she thought. That light and air through that hole has been giving her a false hope for so long.

She wished there was no light, no air, no food. If there were only those faceless men beating her, throwing cold water on her, pulling her hair… She would have escaped to death long back.

Keep Walking

In life when we all move ahead to achieve our goals, be it just reaching the office or improving the bottom line of a manufacturing unit, we come across various obstacles. As a person moves ahead on a certain path, he meets so many obstacles or doors that are shut, breaking his progress. Obstacles have to be overcome and the doors have to be opened in order to move ahead in the direction one has chosen. So what do we do when see a door shut on our path from a distance itself? Do we stop in out tracks right there, or reach the door then see what happens, or may be slow down the speed and watch if the delay helps or just move with confidence? And finally when we reach the door do we just push open it if it is still shut or find an alternate route without even touching it?
The kind of decisions that we take tell a lot about our attitude to life. We could be a pessimist, optimist, unconfident, over confidant, scared or couldn’t careless types. There is no denying that everyone’s life has challenges, obstacles or if nothing, tricky situations. And if anyone has to get anywhere he has to keep moving in the chosen direction.

What I do to go about in life could be considered between optimistic and reckless. I must be having it from my childhood. I remember when I was just 12 years old I used to cycle very fast. I was in Allahabad, which is fairly a big city. I had to cycle about 5 km one way between my home and school. I had to cross many heavy traffic zones. Although there were mostly bicycles, cycle rickshaws, few cars and scooters, but I went fast right till the point I met the real stop point. My reflexes were good and I was confidant of myself. But what I realized that mostly I went through the traffic in the same speed, because I found some gap that got created by the time I got there. That was an attitude of an optimistic to the point of being reckless. It is also true that I would have definitely braked if I was going to bump into something in front. So somehow I got trained into acquiring that attitude in life.

No sensible person really would kill himself on purpose. There is no way through the two head lights of a truck, obviously. After all of us are carrying a lot of responsibilities, of our family, work, our health and social ones. But the attitude of always playing safe can eat into the height our success could have reached, if we were a little bold.
I feel most of my decisions have gone right. I jumped into studying films without knowing the consequences. I was just so excited. Living so far from Bombay, I had never thought that movies could ever be my career. I was fascinated. I never imagined that I will be making money from those stars, whose films I would not be able to watch because I had no money. I only dreamt about them day and night. Even when I got my admission in the film school I was not sure where I was headed, after I finished. But I went ahead, studied hard and when I reached Bollywood, the doors just opened. Now I have been around here since 1972 and did fairly well too.

I am not trying say that this is the attitude to be followed. I am also not saying that all of my decisions have been right. I am only trying to put across that if someone does not walk with a resolve of finding the doors open by the time he gets there, then a lot of his time and valuable opportunities may be lost. Perhaps one should consider the doors and obstacles in your path more like illusions rather than reality and just keep walking.

6 May, 2007

Hello, this is me

My ‘Sound Recording’ course got over in the end of April, 1972. The very next day after the formalities of final semester were done with; I vacated the hostel, packed my bag and landed in Bombay. It was 3 May. In true to ‘filmy style’; I was faced with a horryifying situation of spending my first night on a street, in the mega city. My friend Arun Chakravarty had got accomodation in a lodge, where I had parked my bag. But after 9 pm the owner would not let any outsider remain in. So, I had to get out and start walking up and down… to kill time. How much ‘time’ would that be, I had no idea. Mentally I was prepared to spend the night, in the open… In a while I sat down on a bench. I was visualizing a cop to appear, question me harshly, about what was I doing there so late or might threaten me to go home or just get lost…

It was past 11 pm and most of lodge lights were off. My eyes were glued to the lodge gate, that held all the comfort and security behind it. Suddenly I saw a figure at the gate. My friend, gingerly opened the shutter of the lodge, he gestured me to come. Very quietly he sneeked me into his room… and… very narrowly I escaped the adventure of sleeping on a cement bench at Lallu Bhai Park, Andheri. Next day, on May 4, my other friends found a large room for me at Arab Bunglaow, Khetwadi Main Road (Girgaon). I had been allotted a bed out of four available in the room. Best part was other 3 beds also were occupied by my Film Institute friends. I would stay here for the next 5 years and would become very close friends of land-lord Jayant Patel and his entire family.

In a few days I found myself working as a recording assistant in a number of movies. And soon I found myself not only working with the stars, I admired from a distance, but also became a part of their team! Within year and a half I had to bid good-bye to assisting, as in Oct 1973, I got a break as Navketan’s ‘sound recordist’.

By 1985 I had done nearly 25 feature films.

Later I got into documentaries and did sound for many established documentary makers. I also did production jobs, did some writing, also produced and directed a few documentaries.